The Future of Advanced Air Mobility

Flight Test Pilots and Engineers Share Knowledge Through New Council

Membership in the new eVTOL Flight Test Council—jointly formed by the Vertical Flight Society and the Society of Flight Test Engineers—has grown quickly to 160. The group is working to establish best practices for safety and certification, as well as to promote efficiency and shared knowledge in the development of new aircraft, flight controls, and propulsion systems.

According to council chair Al Lawless, the group has been formed in response to the rapidly increasing volume of flight testing being conducted on new “large-scale” electric aircraft. In his view, many of the pioneers in advanced air mobility are startup companies that have limited connections within the aviation industry and are not connected with industry associations' efforts to share best practices.

“That was OK for smaller aircraft being developed under the Part 107 [55-pound] limit, but [aircraft] masses and energies have been increasing and the time has come for professional societies to purposefully reach out to new-generation flight testers,” Lawless said.

The council is aiming to connect with other industry groups, including the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and standards organization SAE to share news and information. Membership in these groups is not required for those wishing to participate in the new council, which now includes members from beyond the U.S., including representatives from the European Aviation Safety Agency. It also has representatives from the FAA and the U.S. Air Force’s Agility Prime program.

“We don’t write standards, but we tend to be the first ones to see what’s happening in terms of performance, so we need to be able to feed into these standards as well as focusing on safety,” Lawless told the council’s November 17 meeting. The group, which already includes multiple aircraft manufacturers and system suppliers, holds biweekly, hour-long meetings as well as some longer webinars. It has also established a community page to share information among members and is establishing a network of specialist committees.

Prospective new members of the council can contact Al Lawless at sfte@alawless.com.